What the blurb says: “Every Monday evening, six people gather in a smart North London house to talk about addiction. There they share their deepest secrets: stories of lies, regret, and above all, shame. Then one of them is killed – and it’s clear one of the circle was responsible. Detective Inspector Nicola Tanner quickly finds her investigation hampered by the strict confidentiality that binds these people and their therapist together. So what could be shameful enough to cost someone their life? And how do you find the truth when denial and deception are second nature to all of your suspects?”
So, disclosure first: as regular readers of the CTG blog will know, I’m a big fan of Mark Billingham’s books and so the latest book – standalone crime novel, DIE OF SHAME – is one I’ve been looking forward to for what seems like ages. And, I have to tell you right now that it was totally worth the wait!
Told across two timelines – THEN and NOW – the story follows the police investigation, led by no-nonsense, highly planned and logical DI Nicola Tanner, into the murder of one of the therapy group in the ‘NOW’, while in the ‘THEN’ it shows the group, and its members’ lives, as they were in the weeks leading up to the murder of one of their own.
What’s fascinating about this book is the interplay between the characters. From the police – Tanner and Chall – to therapist Tony De Silva, and the members of the Monday Night Addiction group, each is flawed to a greater or lesser extent. There is something utterly compelling, and also (at different times) sad, joyous, hopeful, painful, and shocking about each of them. It’s a book that explores the lasting effects of addiction, the guilt of having to live with the consequences of actions you may have little recall of taking, and of each person’s battle to find and keep (or get back) their place within the world. It also shows the lengths that some people will go to in order to hide their secrets and take their revenge.
For police procedural fans, the investigation narrative is as rich with detail and as tensely pacey as you’d expect from a crime writing master of the genre. DI Nicola Tanner is a detective that I wanted to spend time with – she’s determined and committed to the job, not afraid to speak her mind, and coping well with the emotional and physical demands of her job even though she’s harbouring concerns for her partner, Susan’s, health. In fact, I’m secretly hoping that we might get to see Tanner again in future books (fingers crossed).
DIE OF SHAME hooked me in from the first line of the prologue and kept me engrossed until the final sentence. It works fabulously as a standalone, and also – fans of the Tom Thorne series will be delighted to know – includes a little cameo from a couple of series favourites.
Gritty, thought provoking and utterly addictive – DIE OF SHAME is an absolute must read for all crime fiction fans.
To find out more about Mark Billingham and his books hop over to his website at www.markbillingham.com and follow him on Twitter @MarkBillingham
And be sure to visit all the other fabulous stops along the DIE OF SHAME Blog Tour …